Priscilla Takondwa Semphere is a sophomore at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is a native of the African nation of Malawi.
Last year Semphere won a contest that provided her with the seed money to publish the first of what will be an extended book series that she hopes will give African children a more positive view of themselves. The series features and 8-year-old girl named Ekari who will travel around the continent of Africa offering readers a glimpse of Africa’s foods, music, languages, and culture. Ekari means “good fortune” in a native Malawian tongue.
“We hope that for African children, it will promote dignity,” Semphere said, “and will allow young African readers to see, as the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie puts it, that they, too, can exist in literature.”
The first book is the series has been published and Semphere is at work on the second volume. Semphere adds that the book series “offers a positive image that is very different from the hardship stories of African children we see in the media. That’s not to take away from the negative things many African children experience. But Ekari represents a hope for African children.”